Friday, 31 December 2010

happy new year!

Well we're on the brink of 2011 & I need to begin to surface after Christmas. I love this particular Banksy and have been thinking a little about it over the last couple of weeks. The last I heard, 1 in every 8 pounds spent in the UK was spent at Tesco's - nothing particular against Tesco's as it's actually our own 'corner shop', but the power of the few seems to be a growing phenomena. So, on the brink of another year, I'm wondering where we're going next?
I'm wondering about this in church terms too. I've recently begun to look at the statistics, so far, gathered as a result of the October collection of figures. My first reaction has been a temptation to sink into a sea of despondency as I genuinely anticipated them looking better in the West at least. However, the figures are down again in such a way as suggests our Baptist  churches are still shrinking in numerical terms, however anyone wishes to massage the figures. The outlook is not great either - looking at the percentage of those 75+ among our congregations.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was great, which we saw in 3D Christmas week. Still didn't manage to see Of Gods and Men, so Glen Marshall will be disappointed, but I'm grateful for his enthusiastic commendation and will get there as soon as.
Absolutely loved The Nativity on BBC. Not read any reviews - must do that, but not really had time. For me, it brought a number of things to life - yep, I know it's not necessarily accurate, but if it brought me to tears having lived through 30+ years as a Christian, it must have something to commend it. More importantly, I'm sure it must have spoken powerfully to many other people to whom the story of Jesus' birth has previously been unaccessible.
Shopped till we dropped today - would hate to give anyone the impression I'm not caught up in the material pre VAT increase frenzy - it's incarnational is my excuse!

Friday, 17 December 2010

small, simple church

I'm really suspecting more momentum for church planting is bubbling up from a smaller base than we've been used to in the past. I've met and keep meeting more people who are looking to have a go at something new. One of the barriers is clearly the leadership of those in their current churches it seems and we need, generally, to gain a bigger capacity of heart for what God is doing among us is my take. Of course, it's easy for me to say this as I'm no longer feeling that tension as a local church leader between wanting to build the whole group and releasing people into something potentially at a tangent. What I am finding, however, is I'm a useful broker between those with a creative missional energy and their leadership.
Two conversations I've enjoyed in the last week:
One with a vicar where I went into the meeting thinking the message was 'this is our village, keep out' and came out with a very real sense of partnership and co-operation.
The other was talking to someone involved in planting in persecuted countries who received a message whilst we spoke saying someone had been killed in one the churches on Iraq. It's such a message, which makes you realise we're in such a different place here. Great on the one hand, but complacent with it.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Most of my inspiration this advent has come from two particular friends:
      Simeon who I know no more than anyone else and what I read in Luke chapter two.
      Geoff Colmer who told me something about the nature of all good musical composition.

Simeon, it strikes me, lived in hopeful imagination. We simply know how others viewed him – ‘a good man, a man who lived in the prayerful expectancy of help for Israel.’
He waited … patiently, hopefully, righteously…. but he lived out his life in that place of creative tension. The word was now, but not yet. The tension it created in him was only resolved when he held the tiny Jesus in his arms – ‘you now release your servant; release me in peace as you promised.’

Geoff explained recently how any decent musical composition, (whether it be Humpty, Dumpty, or a Wagner Opera, which were the two examples he used) works with a dynamic built around three elements:

Equilibrium – ‘Humpty, Dumpty sat on a wall’
Tension – ‘Humpty, Dumpty had a great fall’, then (sing it out loud or in your head because it gets worse ….) ‘All the kings horses and all the kings men’.
Resolution – ‘Couldn’t put Humpty together again.’

The thing, which struck me especially, is without the tension, conflict, anxiety music lacks dynamism and movement.
I remember when more involved with counselling individuals and couples, so often hearing how ‘last week’ (ie their counselling session with me) had ‘made things far worse’. My response was always ‘that’s very good’. The thing I discovered was things usually had to get worse before they could get better – the tension had to increase. Only when we dare to confront the reality of submerged emotion and repressed feeling do we invariably get close to the real issues, or the resolution people despair for seeking after in grief.

There is no Christmas story of any eternal significance without an Easter story.
There is no resolution without tension.
There is no resurrection without a cross.
There is no Christmas worth having without an advent of the tension of waiting, the frustration of preparation, the infuriating nature of listening, the pain of unrealised hope.

The tree was my favourite image of those I took driving home yesterday. It was absolutely freezing, just getting out of the car to take the photo. A solitary tree waiting for spring.

You may want to look at where today's post is duplicated. This is a regular advent blog, which a whole variety of bloggers contribute to each year.